This dish came together, as many of my dishes do, as an “uh oh.”
I was planning to serve salmon slow-cooked with carrots and onions for dinner, and somehow in my head I considered the carrots and onions as the side. But when I really thought it through, they functioned more as a flavoring and garnish, not a standalone dish, so I needed something to round out the meal. Fortunately, I had the realization early enough in the day to come up with another option, but I did not have the ability to get to the store, so I had to use what I had on hand, which was not much.
The groats, which are whole, non-rolled oats that resemble brown rice, have a nutty wholesome flavor and texture. They required some soaking and simmering that takes about 90 minutes, so if you are in a rush, this may not be the ideal dish. But you can use any cooked grain — even something left over from a prior meal — as long as it is more or less plain and not adorned with a bunch of other additions. Barley, rice, farro, Israeli couscous, etc., would all work well with this simple preparation.
And it is supremely adaptable: If you don’t have black olives, use green. No parsley? Try chives, scapes, scallions or dill.
1 cup cooked groats
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more if mixture seems dry
Scant ¼ cup pitted black olives, with a bit of juice, coarsely chopped
1 handful parsley, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium skillet, heat the oil and add the groats and olives. Stir to heat. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then add parsley. You don’t want the parsley to cook and wilt, but remain fresh and crisp.
If desired, drizzle a bit more olive oil over the groats before serving.